XML in Action: A Closer Look at How the Technology Inspires Creativity and Innovation

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Douglas Holding AG Uses XML to Improve Data Quality
Douglas Holding AG, a perfume and fashion accessory retailer based in Germany, began using IBM's DB2 and InfoSphere Warehouse software in 2005 to help the company improve the quality of the data it collects through its retail locations and to speed the availability of that data.

The retailer uses IBM's DB2 9 data server to manage its sales records for 1,600 retail locations in Europe and the U.S. as well as 800 European-based perfumeries. An XML application transmits data from the stores' cash registers to the company's central systems (such as accounting). "We take out the XML data from the shops and put it into a relational database," explains Andreas Birkendorf, Ph.D., who heads Douglas Holding's information department.

The data server integrates XML and relational data and provides analytics that enable Douglas Holdings to gain a more accurate view of its operations. "With DB2, we manage both hierarchical and XML data side by side with data in its relational form," explains Bernie Spang, product strategy director for IBM Data Management. The result is more usable data, as DB2 9 automatically compresses and verifies the data. "By being able to store [the XML data] in a database system such that it's not just a file in a file system or a set of text characters, it's actually a data record that can be indexed, queried, and searched," says Spang. "Now, not only can I store the information and retrieve it out of the database, I can actually do analysis against it." Storing the XML data in the DB2 9 data server is eight times faster than it previously was for the company.
"Before 2005, we had different data streams and we were just able to check whether we got the data," says Birkendorf. "A lot of people were never convinced the data was correct. Now they think about the content and not about the technology."

Because they can now trust the data, they can utilize it to make better business decisions. Birkendorf explains how the data is given to other departments that analyze it based on their specific needs. "Now they're taking advantage of the new analytic capabilities and using that information to do more complex queries and analysis to get a better understanding of their clients and their purchase patterns more quickly," says Spang.

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